Knowing the facts

Diagnosis medical form

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, a time to learn more about one of the most common cancers found in American men.

Prostate cancer develops slowly when cells in the prostate gland become abnormal.

The cancer is normally confined to the prostate gland, where it may be controlled with minimal treatment. However, in some cases, prostate cancer can be aggressive and spread quickly.

All men are at risk for prostate cancer.

Factors that may increase the risk of the disease include older age, obesity and race. African American men have a greater risk than men of other races.

Healthy lifestyle choices — such as regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and eating nutritious meals — may lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Symptoms vary for individuals. Some men don’t experience any signs or symptoms, especially during early stages.

With advanced stages, these symptoms are possible:

  • Pain or burning during urination
  • Weak or interrupted flow of urine
  • Frequent urination, especially at night
  • Blood in urine or semen
  • Pain in the pelvis, back or hips

There is no definitive test that completely screens for prostate cancer, although blood tests and digital rectal exams are the most commonly used screening tools.

Different types of treatments are available, including surgery and radiation therapy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and websites have more information about prostate cancer, while the USPS Wellness LiteBlue page has general information about physical and mental health.

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